Q: What are spider veins?
A: Spider veins are small red, blue or purple veins that appear on the surface of the thighs, calves and ankles. They may appear as a group of veins radiating outward from a central point, in a pattern that resembles branches on a tree or they may appear as thin separate lines. Spider veins may be isolated or associated with “feeder” veins. They can also be associated with larger underlying varicose veins. Certain factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy, hormonal factors, weight gain, and occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and trauma.
Q: How are spider veins treated?
A: People often seek to remove spider veins because of cosmetic concerns. However, on occasion spider veins may cause symptoms, such as aching, heaviness, and itching and night cramps. A common form of treatment for spider veins is Sclerotherapy. This is an in-office procedure at North Texas Vein and Vascular where veins are injected with a solution, using small needles, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. The procedure typically improves not only the cosmetic appearance but associated symptoms as well. Generally 2-4 sessions are required to obtain maximum benefit and patients are required to wear compression hose for two weeks after treatment.
Q: What is sclerotherapy?
A: Sclerotherapy is the injection of small amounts of dilute detergent solution into visible veins to cause inflammation in the vein wall. The patient then wears compression stockings for several days. The walls of the vein scar together and the vein is no longer visible. It may take 3-6 months for the veins to fade. Surface sclerotherapy treats only visible veins. It is usually not covered by medical insurance, as it is a cosmetic procedure.
Q: What type of results can I expect?
A: Most veins will lighten and/or disappear. Upon the first treatment 70%-75% will fade or disappear. Sclerotherapy DOES NOT yield perfect results. Improvement usually occurs, but perfection is rarely achieved. As long as you expect improvement and not perfection, you should be satisfied. Full results will not been seen for 8-12 weeks.
Q: Are results usually permanent?
A: The effect on the veins treated usually lasts in the majority of cases. However, new veins can develop over time. Sclerotherapy treats the problem at this time. It does not prevent new veins from showing up in other areas.
Q: What are the side effects of sclerotherapy?
A: Certain side effects may be experienced after sclerotherapy. Larger injected varicose veins may become lumpy and hard for several months before resolving. Raised red areas may appear at the injection sites and should disappear within a few days. Brown lines or a spot (hyper pigmentation) on the skin may be noted at the site of injection, possibly caused by a form of iron that escapes from the injected veins. In most cases, they disappear within 3-6 months, but can be permanent about 5 percent of the time. Bruising may occur around the injection site and can last several days or weeks. Your legs will look worse before they look better.
Q: How many vein treatments are needed?
A: We will give you an estimate of the number of sessions needed at North Texas Vein and Vascular to obtain your goal. Occasionally, areas may need additional re-treatment or “touch ups”.
Q: Do I have to elevate my legs after the procedure, and if so, for how long?
A: First, we encourage all patients to walk as much as possible after the procedure. However, while you are resting or if you plan to be stationary for an extended period of time, elevating your legs is important to help reduce swelling and prevent any remaining blood from pooling in the treated vein. If you are going to be sitting for a while, your legs should be elevated as much as possible for the first week after the procedure. You do not have to sleep with your legs elevated.
Q: How long do I have to wear compression stockings after the procedure?
A: Compression stockings are essential to a successful recovery and prevent adverse side effects after surgery. You must wear compression stockings for the first 24 hours after the procedure. After that time, you should continue to wear them for the next 14 days at all times, except when sleeping.
Q: Will my insurance cover sclerotherapy?
A: Typically treatment of spider veins and reticular veins (green veins) are considered a cosmetic vein treatment and therefore insurance companies WILL NOT cover the treatment. At the time of your consultation, Dr. Handley will determine if your vein treatment is cosmetic or medically necessary.
If you have any more questions about vein treatments at the North Texas Vein & Vascular, call (972) 619-7260 or schedule an appointment online. Click here for more information about varicose veins.